|Ill. legislators pushing to end scholarships|
|Written by Lisa Crocco, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Sunday, 13 March 2011 18:32|
Illinois lawmakers are once again pushing to abolish General Assembly scholarships as another state cost-saving measure during these difficult economic times.
General Assembly two-year and four-year scholarships are awarded at any of the 10 state-funded universities and colleges to students who can be nominated by legislators who live in their district.
The problem that many legislators argue is that there is a lack of criteria established for who receives the scholarships, since most have scholarship committees who decide.
The program has also been criticized by many legislators for taking advantage of it and rewarding relatives of campaign contributors.
Last year, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a measure to abolish the scholarships. However, the Senate did not take it up for a vote. Instead, both houses passed a proposal that would have prevented immediate family members of campaign contributors from receiving the scholarship.
Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the idea and was supportive of eliminating the scholarship program altogether as a cost-saving measure for the state.
“Basically, the tuition waiver program is a burden on cash-strapped universities,” Annie Thompson, press secretary for Quinn, said. “The universities then must pay for the cost of the General Assembly tuition waivers during these difficult economic times for the state.”
“A program that relies on the favor of a legislator rather than the merit of an applicant is not a program I can endorse,” Quinn stated in a press release.
Republican State Rep. Dan Brady chose not to hand out General Assembly scholarships this year, but previously voted against eliminating the program.
“This is a sign of our financial times and I have suspended my General Assembly Scholarship,” Brady said.
He previously said this is another issue that legislators have to look at and attempt to save the universities money and cut back when the state can.
This piece of legislation is similar to the recent proposal to end tuition waivers for university employees’ children at state universities.
Brady said he was supportive of the idea of rolling back on tuition waivers as well as the General Assembly scholarships. He is supportive of cutting costs, but legislators may be able to find some type of compromise that may reduce what the amount of cutback has to be.
“At a time when students are being deprived basic assistance and we are asking our institutions of higher learning to operate with scarce resources,” Quinn said in the release. “I cannot affix my signature to something that allows student assistance to be based on anything other than need and merit.”